Understand what your employment contract means before you sign it!

Feb 2, 2016

So you have just been offered a job and your prospective employer has asked that you sign an employment contract before you start. Should you have it reviewed by a lawyer first?

The language used in most employment contracts takes away your legal rights. A lawyer can explain which rights you are giving up under a contract and can suggest changes to the contract that benefit you.

Here are three common clauses that are found in employment contracts:

Probationary Period

If an employer terminates your employment shortly after luring you from secure employment, then you may be entitled to significant termination pay based on your length of service with your former employer, UNLESS, the employment contract that you signed has a probationary clause. This clause often allows the employer to terminate your employment with little or no notice during a probationary period.

Full-time and Attention

This kind of clause provides that you must devote your full-time and attention to the employer. Many of us have commitments or interests outside of work that may result in a violation of this kind of term of employment. If so, you may want to suggest an amendment to this clause which permits you to continue a specified outside interest.

Termination Clause

Most employment contracts contain a termination clause which takes away your right to reasonable notice of termination. This will result in you receiving much less termination pay than you would otherwise receive.

Let’s say you earn $ 52,000 a year and you are terminated after 12 years of service. A small employer can limit your rights on termination to 8 weeks pay (or $ 8,000) with a properly drafted termination clause whereas without this clause you could be entitled to up to 12 months pay (or $ 52,000)

Most employment contracts contain more than a dozen clauses and many of these clauses are drafted to benefit the employer; not you.

Spending an hour with an employment lawyer reviewing each term of an offer of employment will ensure that you know the legal implications of each clause in the contract and may lead to changes to the offer that benefit you. If you have an employment contract that you would like reviewed, a lawyer at MacLeod Law Firm would be happy to assist you.

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